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Chasing stars again

6 January 2021

The Very Revd Geoff Miller, Dean of Newcastle, writes:

For my Christmas sermon this year I found a lovely poem by someone called Frank Horne called ‘Kid Stuff’. It made one simple point and that was that the Christmas message is in the end ‘kids’ stuff’ – simply a baby born a couple of thousand years ago who was concentrated hope for the world.

The last lines of the poem have stayed with me throughout Epiphany too:


“And as the bombs 

crash 

all over the world today 

the real wise guys know 

that we have all got to go 

chasing stars 

again 

in the hope 

that we can get back 

some of that 

Kid Stuff 

born two thousand years ago.”


I love the encouragement to ‘[chase] stars again’. And if the thought of glimmers of light in dark places is in any way relevant, it also has a sense of irony about it for me because lighting schemes in the Cathedral have also dominated my diary and concerns. Unusual segue there, I know, but the twists and trials of our refurbishment project not only crave the Cathedral’s attention but in a real way have, I believe, to become the arena for those of us here to grow in our understanding of God, and to work out our daily discipleship.

Before the Christmas break, it felt as if it was all about to go pear-shaped with the proposed new lighting system. Things have often seemed to be like that: the knock-on effect of every action like a fallen domino hitting another. It’s never just the simple things – so, finance issues (always a problem) give way to health and safety concerns, which in turn affect the interface with other dependant proposed works (in this case the snazzy interpretation plans), which hit difficult to meet deadlines and supply chains and then construction penalties, and then it can feel like – ‘Well, let’s just lock up and all go home!’.

Fortunately, we can still ‘chase stars again’ in building plans, but in truth, on much more important and serious fronts in our lives.

And a glimmer of light cast in a different way can easily set up a totally different chain of reactions. I’m learning (albeit slowly and often reluctantly) that in these tight situations, sometimes one has to wait, to pray and then hold still. A bit of light on a subject may change everything. Just this last week, as I signed the tender agreement for the new lighting scheme, I have to acknowledge that not everything is perfectly in place, but even things that have felt like they are going belly up can change for the better. No doubt other hidden hurdles lurk somewhere and will probably loom up to hit us head-on. Will I forget again the need to pause and to pray and wait for the light? Probably!

I can’t claim to be part of any tradition of wisdom like the Magi, but I manage to follow their incredible ability to blunder their way forward with great ease. But the view from the Lantern at this time has to be exactly that – a deep belief that, even in our disturbing world, there is in Christ a light to follow and it’s never too late ‘to chase stars again’.

Photo by Alan Edington.